Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hope is the fuel of persistence and there is no time limit on that commodity. Whatever the challenge, never giving up hope no matter how dark the sky, can yield wonderful results.
            A man I know who is now in his late 60s had a stroke a few years back. Doctors said they were not optimistic about his chances of even partially regaining his previous physical ability. His children wanted to have him institutionalized, but while everyone around him could only see the dreary future ahead for him, he set out to prove them wrong.
            He held firm in his belief that he could conquer the latest hurdle life had placed in his path, and began a program to make his body relearn what it seemed to have been forced to forget. He never lost sight of his goal even when his efforts appeared to be an exercise in frustration.
            At first, there was little indication that he would ever improve, yet he always made it a point to celebrate even the smallest of victories. It fueled his hope and his desire to persist.
            Today, anyone seeing this man for the first time would not believe how dismal his physical condition was just a short time ago. He dared to attempt the impossible by believing that there always is a glimmer of hope whatever the current problem. He persisted in taking very small and painfully slow steps and today he rejoices in running.
            Those who persist, no matter the goal or the task, are winners. They have learned to make positivity the fuel that guides them. They’re easy to spot. They’re always looking for the best in people and in life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Looking Good
It is said that there are three stages in life: youth, middle-age, and “You’re looking good!” And for some reason, I seem to be hearing the last one more and more often.
            While traveling not too long ago, I ran into a former colleague I had not seen in well over twenty years. We both stopped and looked at each other for a long moment, assessing. I could see that the face in front of me still had the traits of the past but it was more mature and, dare I say, wrinkly. I’m sure she was thinking the same thing while looking at me. We embraced briefly and the words dictated by social politeness naturally poured out of her mouth: “You haven’t changed a bit!” The “a bit” left no doubt in my mind as to her real evaluation of my aging face!
            I think we’re all guilty of avoiding the truth when facing people we haven’t been in contact with in a long time. And since we know that: “My, you look old!” or “It looks like wrinkles certainly flourish on your face,” or “Boy, you really need a facelift!” would no doubt mean that a murder would ensue, we stretch the truth. And there certainly is nothing wrong with that.
            I think that’s how: “You’re looking good!” entered our vocabulary. But it’s a not a lie as long as people are healthy and happy no matter their age. A brother-in-law of mine recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and I can attest to the fact that he does look good. Not “for his age” as some people are often heard saying in such circumstances, but simply because he’s happy to share a contented life with his wife and family, to make laughter a priority and to regularly take time to engage in golf, a sports he’s always loved.
            Seeing him dance to mark his milestone, I decided then and there that I would take it as a compliment when people tell me I look good. More often than not, it is after all simply a true observation.
            (Or it could simply be that they need new eyeglasses!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Traditionally November has been a month to remember not only soldiers who have sacrificed so much for all of us, but also relatives and friends who have gone to their reward.
            When I was growing up, All Souls Day was a very important part of tradition, and it followed that November became a time to remember our departed loved ones and reflect on the impact they had on our lives.
            I think the Mexicans have the right idea when they mark The Day of the Dead with celebrations believing that it’s a time when loved ones return. That day is actually two days. On November 1st, they believe that’s when children who have passed return, and that adults return on November 2nd. Taking time to welcome their deceased loved ones with their favorite foods, drinks, etc. must certainly ease the pain of their departure.
             With all these reminders of death, I see November as a time to reflect on the passage of time and how we use it. While the month does remind us of our mortality, to me the true message is that we should live each day as though it were our last. Then we will have a lot of great days!
             That does not mean avoiding the obvious.
              In a conversation with an old acquaintance recently, she confessed that she still has not made a Will. I was astounded. Plenty of time, she said, but I suspect she believes that such a step would surely bring about her demise. I tried to tell her that all she’s doing is insuring her family will have a ton of headaches as they try to settle her estate, but I doubt I was successful.
               Too bad. I believe we all have a duty to simplify things for those who will remain behind. That’s the reason that, in addition to a Will, I have prepared a list of how I would like some personal things to be distributed. Nothing of much value, simply things that I know each of my children and grandchildren will appreciate receiving for sentimental reasons. The idea is that each recipient will have a memento and that it will be simpler for everyone concerned. That being done, I can concentrate on living.
               Recently, while putting some order in my large collection of books, I came across the book Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel, M.D. The book was a great success when it was published a couple of decades back. It focused on the need to have a positive attitude no matter what happens to us. Now retired, Siegel uses the internet to remind people to enjoy life if they want to have longer, healthier lives. Although death is inevitable, it is not a failure, he says, but rather our final growth experience.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Time to Remember
When I first traveled to Europe in the 60s, even though the Second World War had ended two decades earlier, the signs of that dark chapter in history were everywhere. I remember driving through towns where piles and piles of rubble marked the spots where homes, businesses and even majestic cathedrals had once stood. And in talking to people it was clear that everyone had lost someone to war. A harsh reality they certainly never forgot.
However, the sight that brought tears to my eyes was a military cemetery where crosses marking the graves of fallen soldiers stood in perfect and seemingly never-ending rows. So many young lives forever lost!
We in North America tend to forget all those who went to fight the Germans and the Japanese and never came back as well as those who came back forever marked by the battles they fought. We must remember them and make certain our grandchildren remember how much they gave to guarantee freedom.
Of course, our grandchildren are no doubt more aware of the current wars. It seems that until recently veterans were old men. Today, they are young men and women we know or have known who continue to fight for freedom and justice.
It is sad that these have to be gained with loss of life. I can only hope humanity will one day experience an era when peace reigns supreme throughout the world. Perhaps it is too much to expect of human nature, as the above photo is captioned, but in the meantime November is a time to remember. A time to remember those who came before us and gave us so much as well as those still fighting for us today. A time to remember how very fortunate we are for their sacrifice.
It’s November, let’s remember, lest we forget.